Chapter 4: The Castle

IV. The Castle

 

The answer was: that very Monday night. On Tuesday, Temple was taking his Intro to Alchemy class to the Field Museum, and they all supposed this could not be a mere educational experience. The class was on Crimson Day: Tom and Daphne were in the class scheduled to go, and Angelica, in his Yellow Day Intro Alchemy class, didn’t have a Crimson Day class at the same time and arranged to go. But Cloudius and Arnulf had no excuse to tag along and were adamant that the Fab Five needed to do more underground research.

“That one tunnel goes to Giordano’s,” said Cloudius, “there’s gotta be another that connects up to those Indian tunnels.”

“And we’re going to follow Temple or something?” asked Daphne. “Like, not dangerous at all, huh?”

“We’ll get expelled,” said Angelica. “And by the way, exams are coming up in two weeks.”

“Two weeks?” said Cloudius. “That’s like forever.”

“I want to go,” said Arnulf. “But I’m not going just me and Cloudius. Would you go if Tom and Daph went?”

“Me?” asked Angelica.

“Yeah, you.”

“If Tom and Daph went?” She looked their way. “Just how well do you know them, anyway?”

 

They decided to rendezvous in the basement at 9 pm. Things went fine until Professor Match came around the corner in the school and saw the basement door close. He opened it, and there was Daphne.

“Students are not allowed—!” he began.

“Hey, Daph,” said Tom from behind him. “You must’ve got turned around. That’s not the way to the auditorium.”

“Auditorium?” said Match.

“Yeah,” said Tom, “we were going to try out for the school play. They’re doing Arsenic and Old Lace.”

“Tryouts are not until tomorrow night,” said Match in a cold voice.

“I must have got confused,” said Daphne.

“Isn’t today a crimson day?” asked Tom.

“No, yellow,” said Match. “Tomorrow’s crimson. Well, I can see where you got confused, both of you. Now run along back to your house without delay.” He watched Daphne come out and then folded his arms and stood before the door, beefy in his dark grey robe and hood, and white shirt and loud-patterned tie, bald head and walrus moustache, and watched them go out the door and not come back.

“Man!” said Angelica, hiding among the rubbish pile.

“Just wait,” said Arnulf.

“There’s light under Mac’s door,” said Cloudius, after taking a brief look, “but not Temple’s.”

“See?” said Arnulf. “No hurry.”

And there they were, twelve minutes later, when Daphne and Tom moved the shelf aside and came out of the tunnel from Ash House.

“I thought we’d have to go without you,” said Angelica.

“Believe me, so did I,” said Daphne.

Just then the stair door opened again and someone who turned out to be Professor Temple came through, led by his glowing wand. Temple strode quickly and confidently, with the wand light low, down the long chamber to his room, where he had to fiddle with his keys for a moment. Then he went inside and shut the door. They could practically feel the slight reverberation in the stone as he re-locked it.

“Come on,” said Daphne, “to the secret door. He’s just grabbing stuff for his trip.”

“What if he doesn’t need to grab anything?” asked Tom.

“Exactly.”

They hurried across the middle, then scurried along the shelves, then pulled Remediae medioevales plantarum and hurried through. Arnulf pulled the secret door at the far end open just a crack, and just then Temple’s door opened and Temple came out, striding perhaps a little less confidently but with a brighter light. He strode right on past the watching kid exactly as if he had no idea Arnulf was there.

After the light was past, Arnulf pushed the secret door open, but Cloudius and Angelica pulled him back. They could hear MacMorris’s door open quietly and shut, and moments later, his wand light way down, the tall young professor (also handsome, blue-eyed, with a wonderful smile and hair just a half inch too long and a lovely soft-looking moustache and a dreamy look in his slightly watery blue eyes, none of which was visible in the dark) walked by.

“That was close,” said Arnulf.

“Cloud and I are going in front,” said Ange. “Tom, in the middle with the light. You and Daph can take the rear. Don’t mess with anything.”

“Who made you boss?” Cloudius started to say, but Ange froze the words with a look.

So they followed at a considerable distance. MacMorris’s wand light was little more than an idea in the gloom ahead, and Tom’s light was down to the point where it would have seemed just a trick of the eye to MacMorris if he looked back. Further ahead, a bright but distant Betelgeuse, was Temple’s wand light. Now and again it stopped, and as a result the other two stopped one step later. All the while they were going down five steps every fifty feet or so, slowly but steadily delving into the earth. The tunnel was wide enough for them to easily go two by two, finished and paved with smooth cut stones.

The fifth time they stopped, then started again, almost immediately there was a wave of magic force from ahead. Penton energy ten to a hundred times their entire stores was expended in a moment. The MacMorris light fell to the ground and there dimmed and died out; there was a thump as, simultaneously, MacMorris himself landed. The Temple light hovered a moment, then turned and went on its way, dwindling ahead and downward in the distance.

“What the bleep?” said Angelica.

“Come on,” said Cloudius.

“But don’t touch anything!” She hurried to keep up with the eager young man. Wands out, they soon came upon a dimly seen body. “Oh my god,” said Angelica. “He killed him.”

“Really?”

“Don’t get your hopes up,” said Daphne.

Tom brought his light down to look. He let it come up a little in the red. They could now clearly see Professor MacMorris, lying face up, smiling as he softly snored.

“Don’t let us get caught by Temple,” said Arnulf.

“Better him than some others,” said Cloudius. “He puts his enemies to sleep.”

“Bad enough,” said Arnulf.

“Come on,” said Angelica. “We agree we don’t want to get caught. He’s getting away!”

So they hurried after Temple. It was hard to make up much time, with the intermittent stairs. Other things slowed them down: the need for silence, the sound of lapping water, the smell of water, and now the faint and growing sound of an echoing howling.

The steps ended. The hall ran ahead a ways level, then opened out into a cavern. The wall on the left disappeared: off on that side, the cavern opened out into a chamber of water, the stone floor replaced by a floor of black waves. The ceiling went off into darkness; they could just see Temple’s wand light playing off a distant wall far to their left over the waves, beyond which, perhaps, the water went all the way to the ceiling. The area before them resembled a dock, but one without boats, freight, people or equipment. Here and there the massive stone ceiling, and the weight of a city neighborhood above, was borne by huge square pillars. Temple’s light played about these as he moved away from them.

Far ahead still came the sound of hollow howling.

Temple was just entering a hallway at the far end of the “dock.” The kids hurried across the dock area as he went into the hall, and waited as Temple passed through a four-way intersection and approached a door. Arnulf alone crept up the hall far enough to hear the password before Temple went through the door.

The others joined him in the four-way intersection. To the left was the direction of the howling. To the right, the hall went a short distance, turned right again and went up a stair.

“Albusdumbledore??” Angelica repeated.

“That’s what he said.”

“What do you suppose—?”

“Ssh, listen, he’s talking to someone.”

Temple seemed to be holding a conversation with a disembodied voice. It was deep, but not at all like the Deep Voice that MacMorris had been arguing with.

Temple was saying, “He’ll wake up. Will the spirit guards keep him off my back? What say you?”

“Of course, of course,” said the voice.

“I only wonder,” said Temple in a voice that almost sounded humorous but was very serious underneath, “if all of your colleagues are entirely committed to helping in this little project for the good of all. You do believe it’s for the good of all, do you not?”

“This spirit,” said the voice, “is entirely in your corner, but no, I would not assume that every one of the spirit guards is entirely reliable. There are weak links in any chain. Do you not have weak links in the Lyceum?”

Temple laughed, again without much mirth. “Oh, we have some very weak links,” he said, “as well as some who are stronger than you or I even know, I dare say. Well, it will have to do, it’s as much as we ever have.”

“What more do you wish of me?”

“No more,” said Temple. “I must go Upstairs and read in the Books. Just keep the sleeper off my trail when he wakes. It would be unfortunate if he knew what books I was reading.”

“For that,” said the voice, disembodied but with both heart and pride, “you may count on me.”

“I know it,” said Temple. “The reverse is also true. Fare thee well.”

Then Temple was coming back out. Ange, Cloud and Arn hid behind a pillar at the edge of the dock area, and Daphne and Tom hid around a corner.

“Is he gone yet?” Cloudius hissed, before Angelica put a hand over his mouth. Temple, in the dark of the intersection, looked around suspiciously. Then he headed off down the right hand way, turning right again and heading up the steps.

The five kids reunited in the four way intersection. The howling behind Daphne and Tom was loud and yet mellow. “It’s just the hakkenkraks,” said Daphne.

“The what?” Arn, Ange and Cloud all more or less said at once.

“Are we following him or not?” whispered Daphne.

“We’re following him,” said Angelica.

So, Tom and Angelica in front, they crept up the steps behind Professor Temple. Presently he came to an iron-bar door, and they distinctly heard him mutter albusdumbledore.

“Albusdumbledore?” repeated Angelica in a whisper.

“That’s what Eva heard him say too,” Tom put in.

They all gave him a look, and then they set off toward the iron gate. Temple was already well beyond. They approached it gingerly: only after considerable investigation did Angelica mutter albusdumbledore at the gate. It came open very quietly. They were no longer in an underground tunnel, but something more like a basement.

The five kids looked around the basement—clean but authentic, like a new museum. There was torture equipment, there were suits of armor, there were racks of swords and spears and bows, all well-organized and well-dusted.

They crept up the steps, Angelica and Arnulf in front. They came out on the edge of a tiny open courtyard. The steps had come out into the open air, the courtyard lit by the gibbous moon through a few trees along the wall.

A door next to them was ajar. Eva went through, came back, mraowed. Daphne listened, then went through. They all came through into a wide landing at the bottom of wide stairs. Up two flights, they came out into a long library. They could hear Temple humming among the stacks.

And then they hid, all five of them, among the shelves of old books, for an hour while Temple studied, tsked, hummed and sang. One minute he was softly singing “I did it MY wayyy” and the next minute muttering about cracks and segments and chortling or harumphing.

Then he slammed a book shut, stood up, looked around. The five kids, here and there around him, held their breath. It was well that they did, because Professor Temple was having a bad case of foul vapor. He grabbed up the book he’d slammed down, grabbed up his glasses, and headed for the castle john.

“Watch that john,” hissed Arnulf.

“What? Me?” Angelica hissed back.

“Yeah, you,” whispered Daphne. Eva glared at Angelica and mraowed.

Then for six and a half minutes, Arnulf, Daphne, Cloudius and Tom pored over Temple’s books and notes, and Eva and Angelica listened to Temple talking to himself in the bathroom.

“Eleven segments,” Daphne read off the note pad. “He wrote it in that margin too, and over here. Why eleven, anyway?”

“There were more combinations than waves on the sea,” Tom read from an open book, “and the sages knew many obscure patterns to achieve certain effects.”

“I don’t like the sound of that,” said Daphne. “Ange, is he saying anything?”

“He’s given up, he’s reading Peanuts aloud to himself.”

“Tell us if he starts to get up? Or recites the locations of the eleven thingies.” Angelica returned to perusing Fascinatynge Animales and Beestes of Magickle Powres.

“Look at this,” said Cloudius, clearing books off of a map on the table. It was a map of the middle east: Egypt at the lower left, Greece at the upper left, the long Iranian plateau occupying most of the upper right. There was a notation near Baghdad, where Babylon had once stood. All four leaned close. “Last seen together in the time of Cyrus the Persian,” they all read off the map.

“Flushing,” said Angelica. The others quickly rearranged the mess on the table and dove for the stairway. They made it to the basement of the castle, but in the darkness Arnulf and Cloudius got separated from the others. They bumped into each other and were in frantic whispered consultation when the door above opened and Temple began to descend the stairs.

Arnulf dragged Cloudius through the gate and down the steps. With Temple behind them, they went straight at the four-way intersection, down, zig left, zig back straight again. And then they both hit the brakes just in time to avoid sliding into cold dark water.

A gale wind of howling broke from the black chamber in front of them. They got to their feet and dashed back, hitting the brakes again just in time to avoid coming around the last corner straight into the path of Professor Temple.

“We have no luck,” said Cloudius.

“Sssh.”

Temple was calling at the door of his spirit guardian friend. They made small talk while Arn and Cloud sat on the floor in the hall almost facing the water chamber, a bitter wind of howling blowing hard across them.

“A bit loud tonight, eh?” said Temple.

“I rather like it,” said his unseen, deep-voiced friend. “Game of chess?”

It was four in the morning when Arnulf and Cloudius made it back in the back door and up the back steps to their beds.

 

“So what do we know?” asked Rachel Rabat. She and Natalie Lopez were crowded together in the corner of Tom Hexane’s bunk, with Ahir and Angelica next to them. Tom was in the window, Arn in the easy chair, Cloudius on the floor and Daphne standing by the door. It was 6:30 am: Daphne and Ahir had cut short their exercises to have this confab before breakfast at seven.

“They can be put together in various ways,” said Tom. “Say you have Segments number 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. Maybe you could put those together and make a death ray. Or you could rearrange them and use it to cause people to have weird dreams.”

“You could tell your armies that they can’t be beaten,” said Daphne.

“You would think of that,” said Natalie.

“Daph’s right, actually,” said Angelica. “What was that note?”

“1942,” said Daphne. “A seven-segment combination, probably including both 9 and 10, was found in Berlin by Allied and Soviet spies. They stole it, hid one segment in Berlin, and split the other six.”

“This is from Temple’s notes?” asked Rachel.

“Yeah,” said Tom. “I wish we could’ve grabbed the map.” He pulled out a big sheet of paper. “I’ve tried to reproduce it.”

“So, eleven segments,” said Arnulf to Daphne as the others bent over the map going ooh and ahh.

“You think we should collect them ourselves,” said Daphne.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Good. Don’t.”

Angelica was looking at them, smiling. “I know what you guys were talking about,” she said.

“And?” Arnulf prompted her.

“And I got this lovely book,” she said, holding up Fascinatynge Animales and Beestes of Magickle Powres.

“So, my question is,” said Ahir, standing up and looking straight through Arnulf, brown eyes into brown, “where is this castle? Is it a real place, or is it some sort of parallel universe or a dream?”

“It’s real,” said Arnulf. “Ange here got to sit outside the bathroom while Temple—!” He stopped and smiled at the lovely Ahir. “Let’s just say the bodily functions exist there too.”

“Ah. But where you figure it to be, there is no castle in fact, right?”

“Yes,” said Daphne. “It’s on the southwest side. No castle.”

“I’ll tell you what,” said Rachel, looking up. “I don’t want to get any deeper into these little activities of yours, but I’m glad I’m on Professor Temple’s field trip to the Field Museum.”

 

But the Field field trip, the next day, was something of an anticlimax, if not exactly disappointing. Arnulf and Cloudius managed to talk their way into the trip, relying on an appeal to Ash, who was susceptible to the argument that they were missing out on an educational opportunity. When they got their deal, they weren’t sure it would even be worth it.

“A two page essay on what we saw!” Cloudius exclaimed in private. “Two whole pages! I think Daphne should write it. It’s all her idea.”

“Two pages,” said Arnulf, “and we can’t even mention the Eleven Thingies.”

But they went. The group, which included several school ghosts not visible to the rest of the museum’s attendees, had a good look at the video of the Cambrian era and pored over the bone structure of dinosaurs and mammoths. Then they took a look at the gems.

Here they slowed down. Diamonds abounded, in a wide range of colors as well as clear; there were other crystals of all sorts and some really complicated, and heart-wrenching, examples of what jewelers could do with a few ounces of gold and a few grams of simple crystal.

There was also one display that held a riddle. Angelica spotted it: a lovely necklace that sat on a piece of purple felt, a piece of felt that had discolored slightly in the light over the years. But the shape of the discoloration—the shadow of the object on display—was not the same as the necklace. Temple did not even slow down as he passed it, but he definitely looked. It fell to Angelica to draw, in her notebook, the shape left on the felt from whatever had been there.

Then there was a whirlwind tour of Ancient Egypt. Into the “pyramid,” then down, then up, then out. But in the middle, when they were in the level below the entrance to the exhibit, Daphne and Arnulf found themselves standing in front of the mummified Ramesses II.

They looked down at the floor. There was a fancy carpet. They could make out the shape of the floor under the carpet.

“Trap door,” Daphne mouthed. Arnulf smiled and replied, very quietly, “Nice day, isn’t it.”

Then they were having their sandwiches in the food court. Eva was snooping about the kitchen and store rooms. Temple was sitting alone, eating his sandwich, reading the Tribune.

“What did he bring us here for?” asked Cloudius.

“It was your idea to come,” said Daphne.

“Well,” said Tom, “why did he want to come here? He doesn’t look disappointed, considering we haven’t exactly seen anything amazing, um, except for the amazing stuff. I really like the trilobites.”

“I don’t guess he’s here for the trilobites,” said Cloudius.

“Trap door in the Egypt section,” said Arnulf.

“Somebody moved something in the gem section,” said Angelica.

Daphne fixed her with a look. “Explain,” she said.

“That necklace. The really amazing one. It was suspended over some purple felt. But something had sat on that felt for a long time, not the necklace, something else. It left an unfaded spot.”

“What was it shaped like?”

Angelica looked around. She pulled out a book from the museum store: Egyptian Hieroglyphs and You! “It’s a serpent with horns. It’s the Egyptian letter F.”

“Wait. It’s an Egyptian letter, you say. It couldn’t have been just some squiggly thing?”

“No, Daphne,” said Angelica with a steely look, “it was this letter.”

“So what, are there eleven letters in Egyptian?” asked Cloudius.

“No, there were like a thousand,” said Tom.

“Yeah,” said Angelica, leafing through her new book, “but there were maybe twenty they used all the time. Some of them stood for actual individual letters, some of them, like this guy sitting down, just told you it was a guy you were talking about. And this one happens to be their F.”

“So what does it mean?” asked Cloudius.

“What it means,” said Arnulf, “is they really exist. First heard of in ancient Egypt, check. One hidden under the Field Museum: close enough, I think.”

“Not close enough,” said Daphne. “We really can check.”

Arnulf’s voice dropped even lower. “Trapdoor?”

“Trapdoor,” Daphne said just as softly.

 

But the week went by quickly, and the implications and ramifications of sneaking into the museum at night and checking out the trap door began to sink in. Breaking the law, breaking the rules, probably setting off types of alarm that they didn’t even want to know about, and then what? What might they find under that trap door? Some sort of guardian spirit? An Egyptian god? An Indian god? A lich, a wight or two, a dragon forsooth? Who would leave a Segment unguarded, even buried under a museum? Meanwhile life went on.

Rats and Cloud got caught rummaging in the rubbish pile in the basement, but when Rats told Mistress White that Timms, the blacksmith, had said it was okay, Timms himself backed them up; as a result, Rats wound up assisting the smith in his early morning class with Daphne and Cloudius.

Eva told Tom, who told the others, that there was definitely an unquiet spirit wandering the campus at night, but her sense was that it wasn’t angry at the people of the school. “Maybe it’s an old Indian,” said Angelica.

“Maybe it’s an Egyptian,” said Arnulf.

Arn and Pindar also snuck into the basement, but they got away with it. Arnulf found a few documents about his father and his grandfather, and Pindar found out all about his parents.

“My mom was totally serious,” said Pinhead. “I totally can see it, too. She got nothing less than all As here and she never took less than six classes a semester. Dad, on the other hand.”

“Coasted?” put in Cloudius.

“They passed him because they didn’t want him here anymore and he wasn’t quite bad enough to make an example of,” said Pinhead.

“What did you find out, Arnulf?” asked Tom.

Arnulf met his eyes. “Not much on Josephus, my grand-dad,” he said. “There’s one transcript. Spring 1919. All As, but a B in magic history. That’s funny.” He looked at the back, then put it down and picked up the other sheets. “And a cover sheet and a couple of receipts from when he got here. It was whatever was at one end of the file. Someone grabbed the rest and went.”

“What about your dad?” asked Tom.

“My dad,” said Arnulf. He held up the file. It was very thin. “Someone got here too. Almost all gone. I’d guess they left a few sheets rather than leave it empty.” He opened the file and pulled out the half dozen sheets. “Spring 1953. As and Bs. Receipts. Yeah, this form says he got a bed from the school. Heck, I filled out the exact same form.” He held the sheaf up by the top and shook it. A quarter-sheet slipped out and fluttered to the floor.

Angelica grabbed it. She and Cloudius and Tom all leaned together to read it. “What’s it say?” Daphne asked Arnulf.

“He was following someone,” said Arnulf. The note was written in plain, large capital letters, written quickly but carefully. “It’s my dad’s handwriting, definitely. But he didn’t write that note when he was a student.”

“It’s dated Oct 1963,” said Angelica. “It says Brutus has already been here.”

“Brutus?” Daphne repeated. She looked at Arnulf.

He shrugged. “Either I’m going to find out,” he said, “or, I’m not.”

 

On Friday night, the Zephyrs of the Lyceum of the Lake Wind took the portal to a lovely wooded campus amid farm country, and a football stadium cleverly installed between two rows of a cornfield in the middle of Polk County IA. It was not a good night for the host Lyceum des Moines.

The Moinies, as they called themselves, managed to intercept Daphne’s first pass, and then her third pass, and then her sixth pass, and do nothing with the ball. When the Zephs finally got moving, with a couple of hand-offs to Estelle for twenty yards each, Daphne seemed to shake off her issues. Her seventh pass was to Bertie, now demoted to slot receiver, to get them to the ten, and her eighth pass was to Angelica on a slant in the end zone.

By half time, the Moinies had managed no first downs, and the Zephs had put Tom in field goal range twice; they led, thirteen to zero. Nonetheless, Coach Trena Whelp had plenty of advice for the team, and especially for Daphne.

The Moinies started the second half with a long drive that only stalled at the Zephyr ten, and led to a field goal. Daphne came out firing. She hit Kate for twelve, then hit Bert for five, then Angelica for fifteen, and then she did as she was told and handed off to Estelle at the fifty yard line. All Daphne had to do after that was stand and watch as Estelle beat it to the end zone.

The Moinies got another field goal, and the Zephs got one more, and the score was 23 to 6. Then the Moinies fell into sin and corruption. A forced pass got cut off by Henrietta, who was tackled at the fifteen: this time the offense stalled (Angelica and Bert both dropped passes and Estelle bobbled the handoff) and Tom hit his fourth field goal. On first down after the kickoff, the Moinie quarterback seemed to be aiming for a flying receiver somewhere far above his actual receiver, and Arnulf ran under the errant pass and intercepted it. Tackled on the fifty, he rolled, jumped up and pitched the ball to Daphne, who was under orders to hand off. She did so, and Estelle took two runs to get into the end zone. When it all seemed to be happening again—the Moinies threw an interception that seemed to be purposely intended for Spiny Norman—Daphne and Estelle ground out the ground game and let the clock run out.

The final score was 33 to 6. The team cleaned up and headed back for a special pizza dinner in the dining room. Daphne and Arnulf and Angelica and Tom sat together and laughed and joked, and Spiny sat next to Daphne and they whispered and giggled, while Henrietta joked around with Arnulf and the offensive line loaded up on meat lovers’.

But some were looking on and not smiling.

 

Saturday morning, Daphne and Ahir Shaheen and Jen “Spiny” Norman were out in the garden practicing swords. The two tall blonds, and the tall, olive-skinned brunette, stretched and swung their swords around, their breath visible in the cold dawn air, their bodies warming up already enough for them to pull off their sweatshirts and practice in sweat pants, sneakers and tee shirts.

“I wonder where Ange is,” said Daphne as she squared off against Spiny Norman. “I thought she was becoming a regular.”

“Ahir beats up on her too much,” said Spiny.

“Actually,” said Ahir, “I saw her in the library last night. She stayed later than we did. I think we left at ten? Something like that. Well, she was still there. You know, exams. Perhaps she overslept.”

“We?” repeated Spiny, as she prepared to go over to the attack. “You mean—?”

“Just Arnulf and I,” said Ahir. Her skin was dark enough that they couldn’t tell if she was blushing. “Well, I mean, we were working on that project for alchemy. White gave us this project, you see, and Arnulf was having difficulties.”

“Is he still having difficulties?” asked Spiny, as she began a deceptive swing from above to the side.

“And you’re helping him get over his difficulties?” asked Daphne, blocking.

“Quite honestly,” said Ahir with a beguiling Iranian laugh, “I don’t know what you could be talking about. We both lost our fathers, you know.”

“Perhaps she fell asleep at the library,” said Daphne, parrying a series of blows from Spiny Norman. “Shall we go get her?”

Spiny let up from her relentless attack. “Sure,” she said. “She can take you. You’re wearing me out. I’ll try and beat more info out of Ahir.”

They walked over to the school and found they needed their pass items to get in: the doors were still locked. “Of course, it’s the weekend,” said Daphne. “This is, like, early.”

“No one in here,” said Spiny. “One supposes.”

Ahir was walking ahead of them. They followed her down the hall to the library door. She was pushing through, then kneeling. Daphne and Spiny caught up. On the floor was Angelica, snoring. Her hair had been messily cut off and lay about, turned various colors or just burned.

“Ange, wake up,” said Daphne, kneeling. “It’s a spell.”

Ange opened her eyes. She sat up as if sprung by a spring. “Jen,” she said.

“What?” said Spiny.

“No, not you, Jen,” said Ange. “Jen Greenbelt. Jen Stinking Greenbelt.” She put her hands to her head. She looked around at the hair. She felt her head. “Oh, my hair, my hair,” she said. “I can’t believe she cut off my hair! It’ll take months for it to grow back right! My life is so over!” She shut her mouth and looked quickly around. “No,” she said. “No, her life is so over.” She stood up, looked around, shook her head and walked toward the door. “I think I’ll go kill her now.”

Daphne looked up at Spiny. “Gee, Jen,” she said, “did you think we had enough on our plate? I thought we had enough on our plate.”

“Apparently you were mistaken,” said Spiny, as they took the other exit. Behind them, at the front door to the library, Angelica was just bumping into Miss Donati and officially getting in trouble for being in the library outside of open hours and carelessly leaving hair everywhere.

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